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Minneapolis Star Tribune: "A sharp, funny first novel about a prickly young woman coming of age in Germany."

Date: May 27 2010

The book jacket of this first novel by a young Russian woman now living in Germany tells us that her name (Alina Bronsky) is a pseudonym. Why, I wonder, does she want to disguise herself when she has committed a very assured, sharp and funny book?

The narrator and protagonist of "Broken Glass Park" (Europa Editions, 221 pages, $15) is 17-year-old Sascha Naimann, a Russian girl living in a housing project in Berlin. She has three fierce ambitions: to make sure her young half-siblings grow up safely, to write a book honoring her mother, and to kill Vadim, the stepfather who two years earlier killed her mother, Marina, and Marina's gentle new boyfriend. The last plan will have to wait until Vadim gets out of prison, which is quite a long time down the road.

Sascha is smart and tough and has a wonderfully tart, distinctive voice, ably captured by Tim Mohr, who translated the book into English. She describes a woman's voice "using sentences of mostly monosyllabic words, words that popped out of her mouth like peas." Thinking of Vadim, she writes in her "educational handbook," "Watch out for people who feel weak. They may want to feel strong one day and you might not ever recover from that."

By Brigitte Frase